This was our first commemoration and from a very different time. It was quite small and not a staged, theatrical event but definitely a labour of love.
It was a picket on a beautiful Sunday afternoon outside the Ministry of Defence opposite Downing Street. Although not a particularly creative format, it was nonetheless creative in its detail. Placards were hand-made with beautiful images of traditional Palestinian life, music played and mint tea, coffee and sugared almonds were served. Candles were lit – one for each known victim – beginning a practice that was to continue in future commemorations.
Some surprising figures came. Palestinian Ambassador Afif Safieh
attended as did the late Michael Prior. But best of all, we had a
sprinkling of ordinary, UK Palestinians.
These were not activists, but mainstream members of the UK
Palestinian community. We could tell they were delighted and we
had a strong feeling we were on the right track.
We also paid attention to promotion and the event got quite a bit
of publicity; we got a piece in UK weekly newspaper The Jewish
Chronicle and in the Arabic press.
A letter was sent to then Prime Minister Tony Blair. Click on the
image of the letter (right) to enlarge.
The representatives of the following organisations gave their
support and agreed to circulate their members:
HE Afif Safieh – Palestinian General Delegation
Khalil Hindi – Association of the Palestinian Community
Dr Daoud – Palestinian Return Centre
Vivien Lichtenstein – British Friends Peace Now
Francis Clark-Lowe – PSC
Sir Cyril Townsend, Chris Doyle, Karen Abi-Ezzi – CAABU
Julia Bard, Charlie Pottins, Mike Heiser, Simon Lynn – Jewish Socialist Group
John McFaddon – Unison
Janet Davies – Friends of Sabeel (UK)
Khaled – Palestinian Students (SOAS)
Jeremy Corbyn MP – House of Commons
General Union of Palestinian Students
Paul Eisen – Deir Yassin Remembered